Updated: Nov 21, 2019
This is a real question: “If the local church is responsible for the Great Commission, of what use are mission agencies?” — posed by Scott Christmas, Northwest Bible Church, Phoenix AZ
[ the answer is from pages 40 & 41 in the HERE to THERE book ] Why do you need a mission agency?For a variety of theological and practical reasons some churches and missionaries question the need for a mission agency. After all, the churches in Acts directly sent missionaries. And at first glance it seems much less expensive to bypass the mission agency. Local churches tend to overestimate their abilities and underestimate the complexities of functioning as their own mission agency. What the local church doesn’t pay in fees to the mission agency, costs a tremendous amount of time and effort managing complex details and decisions at a far distance. Managing and supporting a missionary thousands of miles away in a radically different cultural context is completely different than managing staff at the church. A well-selected mission agency lends its specialized expertise, adding benefits and help to the local church in managing some complex issues, including:
Group health insurance
Field supervision and accountability
Financial management involving foreign currency
Compliance with tax
codes and requirements
Experienced strategy and personnel management
Visa and immigration legalities
Corporate identity and team issues in the target country
We use the illustration of the biblical role of parents in their kids’ education. The Bible gives the role of guidance and training to the parents; that does NOT mean that the parents are obligated to do all the teaching of every subject for their whole life. Parents may (and should) delegate certain things to the best available resource people and/or institutions for the good of the child. Not many parents can teach high school sciences and maths. Even fewer can teach university level stuff. So, we entrust their education to others, while carefully monitoring and interacting with them and their educational environment to guide and assure biblical worldview and values.
The same is true of the local church and mission agencies. The church is responsible; that does’t mean the church has to or should do it all.